Scripps Encinitas is North County's First Certified Primary Stroke Center

For stroke patients, minutes and hospital expertise matter

ENCINITAS, CA. – Stroke symptoms can be difficult to identify and are often misinterpreted. As a result, many strokes are not treated urgently, even though short delays increase the patient’s chances of severe disability or death.

In recognition of the importance of providing treatment quickly, standards have been established to certify hospitals across the country for stroke care.This week, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas became the first certified primary stroke center in North County by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Scripps is seeking stroke certification for all of its hospitals.

“If a typical stroke runs its course without treatment, brain tissue could be irretrievably lost,” said neurologist Tom Chippendale, M.D., Ph.D., a stroke specialist at Scripps Encinitas. “Receiving timely, expert care is crucial for stroke patients in order to prevent disability or death.”

According to two studies presented at the American Stroke Association’s 2005 International Stroke Conference, hospitals with certified stroke centers administer clot-busting therapy and respond with needed tests and exams for acute stroke patients better than hospitals lacking certification. Based on one study, stroke centers appropriately administer this critical therapy at a rate twice that of hospitals without stroke center certification.

“Our certification as a primary stroke center demonstrates our commitment to stringent national quality standards for significantly improving outcomes for stroke patients and that our physicians, nurses and other medical staff are specially trained to identify the symptoms of stroke and are able to administer the latest treatments,” said Carl Etter, chief executive at Scripps Encinitas.“The residents of coastal North County can have confidence that as a certified primary stroke center, Scripps Encinitas is delivering the highest level of care to our patients.”

Each year about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation’s third leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today.

Launched in 2003, the Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center Certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association’s statements and guidelines for stroke care.
Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas is North County’s first certified primary stroke center offering a full-range of clinical and surgical services, including 24-hour emergency services; intensive care; cancer/oncology; orthopedics; neurology; urology; ophthalmology; a Level II neonatal nursery; award-winning OB/GYN and maternal and infant health services; and an ambulatory surgery center. With more than 500 physicians, almost 1,000 employees and 138 beds, Scripps Encinitas has served the growing communities of San Diego’s coastal North County since 1978 and is one of five acute care hospital campuses in the Scripps Health system.